Towards an international framework for communication disorders: Use of the ICF

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Saint Louis University, 3750 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108, USA.
Journal of Communication Disorders (Impact Factor: 1.45). 07/2006; 39(4):251-65. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2006.02.002
Source: PubMed


There has been an interest in the World Health Organization's framework of functioning and disability by those in communication disorders since the original 1980 International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities, and Handicaps (ICIDH). In 2001, WHO published the substantially revised International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF). This framework is gaining in acceptance as a system that would be beneficial for the field and for our clients. This article describes the basics of the ICF and how it differs from the ICIDH; the possible applications of the ICF to communication disorders; some of the work done with the ICF in communication disorders internationally; and the benefits to the field from increased interdisciplinary and international collaboration using the ICF as a common framework. LEARNING OUTCOMES: As a result of this activity the reader will be able to: (1) describe the basics of the ICF, (2) describe the applications of the ICF to communication disorders, and (3) describe the possible impact upon the field internationally.

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    • "In ICF, the elements inherent in AT assessment and selection including body structure and function, activity and participation, and environmental and personal factors. The ICF provides a common reference framework for better communication between the clinicians, patients, and their families [15], [16]. However, the classifications set up by the ICF cannot lead to better patient care without an improved problem-solving technique [17]. "
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    • "Despite the presentation of this information, data on the prevalence and incidence feeding problems in the pediatric population are limited. Possible reasons for this paucity are that disabling or disease conditions are more likely to be counted than are symptoms of diseases (eg, dysphagia) [26] [27] [28], terminology for the coding of feeding-related behaviors may be reflected by multiple underlying diagnostic conditions [16], standardized diagnostic protocols are lacking, and differences exist in methods of ascertainment [3] [21]. Additionally, it may be challenging to distinguish between feeding patterns associated with variability during normal development and those associated with impairment. "
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    • "With this approach, the first consideration in a clinical feeding evaluation is the child's level of participation in mealtime environments. Other dimensions to consider include functioning and disability (body functions, body structures, and activities and participation), contextual factors (environmental—external to an individual's control), and personal factors (unique to each person, such as past experience or background) [WHO, 2001; Threats, 2006]. Details on the ICF can be found at . "
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